Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

Being Sick Is The Worst--Come Cheer Me Up!

I'm sorry that I won't be able to give you the planned book review today. I am battling pneumonia at the moment and not feeling very well. My life is revolving around rest and medication to try and help me get better.

If you have a moment, and feel like cheering me up, tell me what you're going to be/do for Halloween tomorrow! I am so sad I will be missing all the festivities. :(

Friday, October 27, 2017

Guest Author Nancy Campbell Allen

Nancy Campbell Allen was the guest author at my book club this week. She is one of my favorite writers, and I'd have a hard time picking which book of hers I love the most. Her newest release is The Secret of the India Orchid (you can read my review of it here) and it is so rich in detail and has a romance so filled with misunderstanding and angst between characters that you will be turning pages long past midnight to see if they get their happily ever after. I also loved her steampunk romance, Beauty and the Clockwork Beast. It was such a surprisingly great twist on the Beauty and the Beast story, I have to say, and it was one of the best books I read last year. (You can see my review of it here).

Nancy was sweet enough to answer a few questions during our book club/party for readers. (I wish you all could come!) Blogger is only letting me upload short clips, so I had to pick my favorite one. So, in this clip she tells us her next project coming out (I really can't wait for this one!)

She is so down to earth and fun and I am so lucky to be her friend!

You can see Nancy's Amazon page and all her books here

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Was Interviewed And There's A Giveaway!

The wonderful Hallee Bridgeman interviewed me on her blog. I'm afraid she got a few writerly secrets out of me like the one thing I love most about being a writer and what books were a must-read for me when I was a girl. If you want to read all about it, you can click here to see the entire interview.

AND . . .

There's a giveaway for a copy of my new book, The Capture! Easy to enter and you know you want to win. (I always love it when winners are my blog readers.)

So head on over and put your name in the hat. (Click here and scroll to the bottom)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review and a Giveaway!

I was so excited to be part of the blog tour for Christmas Grace, an anthology of four Christmas novellas. It's so hard for me to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, but it's stories like these that are starting to stir the Christmas spirit in me!

The first story by Jennifer Moore is Let Nothing You Dismay and it is so full of angst and emotion! I could hardly put this one down. This one is a second chance romance that had me turning pages as fast as I could to see if they got their happily ever after. I would love to see this one as a full length novel!

Krista Jensen's story, Christmas at Canterwood was so sweet and charming as a governess and a vicar try to show the children the true meaning of Christmas. The romance was so subtle and low-key, yet still compelling. I really enjoyed it.

Winter Angel by Anita Stansfield was a tender story of a young baker's daughter who tries to take care of the homeless people. A young man notices her kindness, but then finds himself needing her help as well. It was a sweet love story helped by a Christmas miracle that will make readers smile.

Christmas Grace by Chalon Linton was one of my favorites. Grace was so earnest trying to honor her husband who had died the year before and she meets an unexpected Christmas helper that may open her heart to love again. It was such a sweet ending! *le sigh*

This is definitely a collection that will warm your heart and make you want to curl up under a soft blanket, ready for all the best parts of the Christmas season.

You can download your copy here

Be sure to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!

Here's the back copy:

Let Nothing You Dismay by Jennifer Moore, After their childhood friendship blossomed into love, one young couple's whirlwind romance ended in bitter disappointment. Now, years later, can a long-overdue Christmas gift heal two wounded hearts?

Christmas at Canterwood by Krista Lynn Jensen A charming new governess is determined to create a magical Christmas for her young charges. What follows is a season of warmth, laughter, and even the promise of an unanticipated love.

Winter Angel by Anita Stansfield For generations, one small London bakery has carried on the sweet tradition of delivering bread to the impoverished. When the lovely baker meets a down-on-his luck stranger, her kindness will open the door to a bright friendship—and an astonishing discovery.

Christmas Grace by Chalon Linton After suffering a heartbreaking loss, one woman returns home to honor the family tradition of staging a Christmas celebration for the surrounding village. But when a severe snowstorm hinders her plans, help—and hope—find her in the most unexpected of ways.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review--Where McG Plays Daddy

Well, this week we get some background into the people who help Five-O---but it doesn't end well for them.

We start out with the "previously on H50" and the history of a hacker named Toast (which was helpful, since he hasn't appeared in very many episodes.)

Then we switch over to a shooting range where JuniortheShootingAce is showing off his skillz. McG shows up to check on his boy and the coach tells him that Ace is the best raw talent he's had as a recruit and reminds him of McG. (Why does the show always do that? Everyone they want the audience to love, they always say that they're just like McG) Ace comes over and McG invites him out to lunch at the shrimp truck.

McG meets Grover in a store and he's looking to buy a used restaurant oven. Danny is out of town, so McG is going to buy it before he gets back. Apparently Danny wants all new things for the restaurant because they come with a warranty. They discuss the ramifications of making such a purchase without Danny, but luckily a phone call from Toast shuts that convo down. Sadly, though, all they hear is Toast getting beat up and then gunshots ring out. (That has to bring back terrible memories for McG since his father died over the phone with him listening to the gunshots. He doesn't talk about that though, or show any signs. Sometimes I wish the show would let Alex act out those sorts of little memories, because I think he'd do a great job with it.)

With the previouslies in our head of all the eps Toast has been in, it's sad to see his beaten and dead body with a stoic McG next to it. He throws out some scenarios with Grover about what could have happened since Toast was a CI, and the beatdown was obviously personal. Jerry calls to say that someone hacked into their system (again? Wow, their security is terrible) but it was a sophisticated attack. If Toast's murder was connected to being a CI, that would explain how they got the information. But, since Toast was their main hacker, and he's dead, they need someone else who's just as good. Apparently the government doesn't have anyone who can do this job and be a lawful citizen, so they go to the prison to talk to Aaron Wright who hacked into their system two weeks ago when he helped a crazed criminal escape. Wright has conditions for his help---like being transferred, and while he's helping he goes to a hotel, spa treatments, room service, the works. McG agrees.

They walk into the hotel room and Tani is there dressed in a vest, tight pants, and not very sensible shoes. Wright asks why the masseuse is wearing Kevlar and says she looks familiar. Tani mentions she saved him when he was tied up and covered in gasoline, crying and begging for his life. (She doesn't mention how he then watched her get beat up and thrown around like a rag doll, but whatever.) She claims she saved his life, but really, it was McG showing up before both of them were killed that saved Wright's life. (And you might recall that we were also told in the scene right after that one, that Tani was the female version of McG. Surprise! Both Junior AND Tani are little McGs! Who's your daddy?) McG handcuffs him to the work table and they give him an ice bucket to pee in before telling him to get to work. Ouch.

Jerry is trying to figure out who might have had a vendetta against Toast, but coming up empty. McG is on the balcony looking at the view when he gets a text from Danny that he heard about Toast and he's coming home. McG says that he's come a long way since he's now calling Hawaii home. Tani calls McG in to look at the computer screen. Yep, Wright figured out that their CI list was compromised so all their CIs could be on a hit list. Dun, dun, dun. He does find a digital fingerprint of a hacker named Mogera inside the files. Wright met him once, he's a hacker legend, apparently and he's blind. (Which is cool, actually.)

Junior is waiting for McG at the shrimp truck and no one has seen Kamekona. Uh oh. McG socks that info away, and is all solicitous, checking on Junior, asking about how much sleep he's getting, that it's okay if everything isn't okay and coming home is tricky. He wants to help him through the process. (Awww) He does lie and tell Junior that it's important to graduate from the police academy. But Junior isn't a dummy and asks if that's always the way it works, (ha! Tani even cheated on her exams before they kicked her out and she got an invite to Five-O. Poor Junior) but McG says that's the way he thinks it should work. (Except in Tani's case, I guess.) Junior doesn't have a phone, so McG is a good dad and says he'll get him one. They're interrupted when Jerry calls to update McG on all their CIs. Everyone is accounted for. Whew! Kamekona is just checking on Flippa's truck so McG is going to head up there.

When McG gets to Flippa's truck, though, it's nearly engulfed in flames and he rushes in to save Nahele moments before the propane tank explodes. Nahele tells Steve that two men in black SUVs (criminals are so unoriginal. I wonder if criminal organizations get a discount for a bulk order of black SUVs), they torched the truck and took Kamekona.

Kame's cell has been disabled and a helo is on its way (to do what? Look for him in the air?) and they have a long list of people that Kamekona burned as a CI, so anybody could have taken him. Grover brought in the blind hacker Magera (whose real name is Harley? Grover kept calling him that, so I'm assuming it is) for questioning in the Blue Room of Doom. He's not talking, though, and Grover is frustrated and gets very close to his face to threaten him, talking directly into his ear, etc. which was strange. The guy's blind not deaf.

Anyway, Kamekona is tied to a chair and getting beaten pretty badly. He tells them they have the wrong guy, he doesn't even know them, but then the guy he does know walks in---Kang. He knows Kame works for Five-O, but Kame denies that and says they just come around the truck a lot. (They've never hidden their relationship or their conversations, so I imagine a lot of people would suspect him of working with Five-O. It seems pretty obvious, but okay) Kang just wants his half a million dollars back that Kame stole from him, but Kame finally admits he spent it, but won't tell him what he spent it on.

Tani is pacing around the hotel room and whining to Wright that it's taking too long. (I kid you not. She is actually saying "how much longer" like a child in the car.) Wright says he's working on it. Then she starts texting her AWOL brother and ignoring the dangerous criminal behind her. Wright tries to engage her in a convo about brothers, but when Wright compares his brother to hers, Tani freaks. She says Wright's brother Ian was a piece of crap and a psycho and her brother isn't like that. She then tells him to shut his hole. (I'm having a hard time relating to her. This scene was particularly unprofessional and bratty. She's on an elite task force, for crying out loud. Act like it. Oy.)

Back to the case. Ballistics has come back and Toast's murder weapon was tied to another crime. A guy named Marks had a brother-in-law that was killed in a prison riot and he blamed Toast. Grover puts a BOLO out on him, but guess what? Wright knows where he is. BrattyTani is still asking him how much longer while she's looking at her phone when the hotel room door bursts open and Marks and two other guys come in guns at the ready. They shoot Tani in the Kevlar and break Wright out. (They want to shoot Tani, but Wright stops them) But seriously, didn't anyone remember how dangerous Wright was? Who leaves a known criminal like him with unrestricted access to a computer and the barest minimum of supervision and they don't think he might reach out to his friends and tell them where he is?

BrattyTani is telling the EMT that she's fine and goes on the balcony to pout. Jerry connected the sedan that Marks drove to the hotel with to the one from Toast's murder. The guys start spitballing on what if Wright took the CI list when he hacked Five-O's system last week, and set up this elaborate con to break out of prison. (Yeah. Maybe they should have thought about him possibly organizing an escape attempt a bit sooner) But he had Toast killed so they'd have to come to him. The guy's a genius. (Ya think?) The blind hacker is the only one who can give them a lead.

They go back to the Blue Room of Doom and question the hacker, but he's pretty quiet. But when they offer him protection and say he could be charged with accessory to murder, he caves. Wright contacted him over the dark net and blackmailed him that he'd turn over proof of his hack of government sites if he didn't do what he said. Harley has some hacking abilities and they bring him to the Talking Table to find Wright. His specialized keyboard materializes and the team watches some colorful wavy lines, computer code, and tunes going on the screen as he tries to get into Wright's files. Thankfully it works and they figure out that it's Joey Kang who took Kamekona.

A bloodied Kamekona is with Kang and his goons. He wants the money really bad, but Kame just keeps saying he spent it. Kang repeats that he's going to die, but Kamekona says he was a lost kid trying to make it out of tent city and went to prison. He should have died there, but didn't. Ever since he got out he's tried to live his life right and give back to the kids so they can make it. He never took one single day for granted and he's not afraid to die. They take him for a last ride before they kill him.

McG has gone to Kang's dad's garage and is pouring gasoline everywhere. He wants the dad to tell them where his son is or they're going to light up his place because he protects his family. (Sniff) The dad give in and calls his son just before Joey Kang takes Kamekona into some trees to kill him. (Good thing Kame was walking slowly!) Joey pulls the gun out, but then in a big anti-climactic scene, puts it away. (Who knew criminals listened to their dad when they said don't kill anyone!) They don't show what the dad said, but Joey tells Kame it's his lucky day. (It was a weird ending, I can't explain it!)

McG pulls up to the downtown Oahu mission and Junior is there. McG tracked his phone, but like any teenager, Junior lost it. He does say he should have taken better care of it (which I've heard from my own teenager, haha!) McG did the same thing I did, and lets out a breath before telling him they're going home. Junior gets to live with McG until he graduates the academy.

Everyone is remembering Toast at the Tropics bar and Jerry is even singing a tribute. (Toast gets a little montage, too) Kamekona is there celebrating surviving and he also tells Flippa he'll be back working for him. McG gives Kame a forehead touch and aloha before he introduces Junior to everyone. Grover updates McG that Wright and Marks are in the wind, but Kang was caught. (Well, one out of three isn't terrible I guess.)

McG goes to Tani's house to check on her. He tells her it wasn't her fault, it was his for taking Wright out of prison, that that was a bad judgment call and we all learn from mistakes. She tells him that maybe she's not right for the job, (I agree. Make her go back to the Academy and figure herself out) She does admit that she was distracted with texting her brother, etc., and took her eye off the ball. McG asks if she could have taken out three guys with a flashbang and automatic weapons? And she says maybe. (Hmmm...)  In the end, McG tells her that if she wasn't right, they wouldn't be having this conversation. (Well, at least Eddie was in that scene and happy to be there. He's the best new character on the show in my opinion.)

The final scene is days later when a healed Kamekona is at a kid's center where young boys are playing basketball. The coach says he hasn't seen Kame around for a while and he should come around more often, he's always welcome. Kame smiles and as he leaves we get a close-up of a little plaque says that the community gym was donated by anonymous in 2010. I guess we know how he spent the money.

I loved the ending and how hard Kamekona has worked to help others and benefit from his mistakes. Best part of the show. McG having to be a father-type figure to his new recruits was expected, but sometimes I wish he didn't have to be the caretaker of the group so much and he had someone on his level that took care of him, as well. Hopefully we'll see more of that as the season goes on.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Movie Review: Carthage

Carthage is a film about the events surrounding Joseph Smith and the men who were imprisoned in Carthage jail with him. It's based on statements, journals, and documents from those who were there and lived it and offers several different perspectives on what happened during that time period.

The martyrdom at Carthage is such a tender topic for those of the LDS faith. However, this film doesn't dwell on the violent end, but on the somewhat hopeful days before that. The movie puts a more in depth face on the events leading up to the martyrdom, including what happened with the jailer and his son, and a conversation with the governor about the charges against them. But what will draw audiences the most are the tender moments between Joseph and his brother as well as Joseph and Dan Jones. The casting for Dan Jones was especially good and the audience can feel the faith and care for the prophet emanating from him as he passes through events that will long be remembered.

The entire movie takes place in the room where Joseph and the others were imprisoned, so there isn't a lot of action, but a lot of conversation. This was hard for my younger children, whose interest waned about halfway through. For myself, my husband, and my older children, however, it was riveting. I also imagine that this setting limitation would make it difficult to film, but the actors really shone as they portrayed the men who would soon face death and how they dealt with that possibility. The hope, the testimony, the fear, and the worry was so palpable. Carthage adds so much more perspective to the narrative on what happened to Joseph Smith that day.

I think this movie showcases the emotions and moments that shaped every man in that room---both the legacy of those who died and the lifelong mission of those who survived. And it's a film you'll be thinking about long after the credits roll.

You can get your DVD here

Here's the back copy:

While seething mobs converged around them, the Prophet Joseph and his brethren quietly submitted themselves to imprisonment in Carthage Jail. Now, as never before, audiences are invited to witness the events of the days preceding the martyrdom. Based on documents handed down through the generations, Carthage offers a glimpse into the turmoil and testimony of the men whose place in history was forever defined by what was to come—a jailer seeking to protect his charges, a governor caught between the persecuted and their persecutors, and a group of Saints whose faith and brotherhood stands as the ultimate witness of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Freebie Friday

The Christmas books are starting to come out and today I have a freebie for you from Liz Isaacson, Christmas in Three Rivers! The weather is getting colder where I'm at and this looks like the perfect anthology to curl up with!

You can get your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

Isn't Christmas the best time to fall in love? The cowboys of Three Rivers Ranch think so. Join four of them as they journey toward their path to happily ever after in four, all-new stories in the Amazon #1 Bestselling Three Rivers Ranch Romance series.

THE NINTH INNING: The Christmas season has never felt like such a burden to boutique owner Andrea Larsen. But with Mama gone and the holidays upon her, Andy finds herself wishing she hadn't been so quick to judge her former boyfriend, cowboy Lawrence Collins. Well, Lawrence hasn't forgotten about Andy either, and he devises a plan to get her out to the ranch so they can reconnect. Do they have the faith and humility to patch things up and start a new relationship?

TEN DAYS IN TOWN: Sandy Keller is tired of the dating scene in Three Rivers. Though she owns the pancake house, she's looking for a fresh start, which means an escape from the town where she grew up. When her older brother's best friend, Tad Jorgensen, comes to town for the holidays, it is a balm to his weary soul. A helicopter tour guide who experienced a near-death experience, he's looking to start over too--but in Three Rivers. Can Sandy and Tad navigate their troubles to find the path God wants them to take--and discover true love--in only ten days?

ELEVEN YEAR REUNION: Pastry chef extraordinaire, Grace Lewis has moved to Three Rivers to help Heidi Ackerman open a bakery in Three Rivers. Grace relishes the idea of starting over in a town where no one knows about her failed cupcakery. She doesn't expect to run into her old high school boyfriend, Jonathan Carver. A carpenter working at Three Rivers Ranch, Jon's in town against his will. But with Grace now on the scene, Jon's thinking life in Three Rivers is suddenly looking up. But with her focus on baking and his disdain for small towns, can they make their eleven year reunion stick?

THE TWELFTH TOWN: Newscaster Taryn Tucker has had enough of life on-screen. She's bounced from town to town before arriving in Three Rivers, completely alone and completely anonymous--just the way she now likes it. She takes a job cleaning at Three Rivers Ranch, hoping for a chance to figure out who she is and where God wants her. When she meets happy-go-lucky cowhand Kenny Stockton, she doesn't expect sparks to fly. Kenny's always been "the best friend" for his female friends, but the pull between him and Taryn can't be denied. Will they have the courage and faith necessary to make their opposite worlds mesh?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Freebie Alert!

I came across a YA thriller being offered for free by author Cindy Hogan. It's called Kate, Unmasked and it looks really good, so I thought I'd pass the deal along!

You can download your free Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

The mysteries of her past consume her.

Seventeen-year-old Kate has never stopped searching for the secrets of her past—the secrets that began with her missing birth parents. After years of every lead drying up and every hope turning false, Kate finally lucks onto a promising lead.

Determined to find the truth once and for all, Kate travels to the gritty New Jersey shore. But what she finds is worse than she ever could have imagined. She can’t hide from who she is, and now she must face the awful consequences of finding the very people she should have been hiding from.

Some secrets should stay dead and buried.

A young adult action/adventure novel filled with mystery, suspense, romance, and lots of thrills, sure to thrill both teens and adults.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

In The Non-Fiction Corner & A Giveaway!

Today in the Non-Fiction Corner, Lauren is reviewing 100 Favorite Verses From the Old Testament by Shauna Humphreys.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to enter the giveaway!

In The Non-Fiction Corner
by Lauren B.

Ok, wow, first can we just talk about the look of this book? It is beautiful! It is very well done with a nice color and stitching, definitely one that you need on your shelf. And what is inside is even better.

I have never met someone who is completely confident with his or her knowledge of the Old Testament, so I thought this was an awesome idea for a book. The author has done 100 verse books in the past, but I am glad that she chose to do one specifically for the Old Testament. Clearly, because she came up with the idea, the author is brilliant and if the title doesn’t sell you on that, her messages in the book definitely will. The Old Testament is often looked over I feel like, so focusing on some of the gems that you can find in there is golden. But that’s not all! It’s not just the Old Testament; Humphreys uses verses from every standard work as well as quotes, hymns and personal insights. It expresses lessons from the Old Testament in an extraordinary way.

I particularly liked the seventh verse the author chose, about the Mountain of the Lord. I feel like there is so much to learn about the temple in the Old Testament and sometimes it is overlooked. Like Humphreys says, going to the temple really is a mountaintop experience. We are separated from the craziness of the world, we have a path to follow, we can see more clearly, and it is a peaceful time to connect with the Lord. This is just one example of the many insights you can gain from reading this book. It was an excellent reminder for me of some of the forgotten verses and stories I had read in seminary, and has helped remind me why the Old Testament is one of my favorites.

Here's the back copy:

Studying—and truly understanding—the Old Testament can feel like an insurmountable task. But in this wonderful compilation of 100 of the most beloved Old Testament verses, author Shauna Humphreys reminds readers that this sacred book of scripture is brimming with treasures of wisdom for those prepared to seek them. Presented with complementary spiritual insights, vibrant explanations, and personal applications, each verse will motivate readers to delve into these sacred and powerful teachings as never before. Whether used in personal study or incorporated into family discussions or Church lessons, this inspiring volume is sure to enlighten the mind and stir the heart.

You can purchase your copy here

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review: The Ep Where A Lot of People Get Killed

Well, this ep is marked with a lot of murder and violence, but also the return of Harry Langford, (who I wish was a recurring character). But I digress . . .

The show starts out in Waikiki with a waitress bringing drinks to a back gaming room where a heavily guarded man is arguing with someone about the best place to get a manicure. (Do crime bosses really get manicures? Like, so their shooting hand looks especially good or something?) The FBI has a surveillance van listening in, whining about how boring this assignment is, when gunfire breaks out. The FBI guys try to run in, but their back door is blocked in by another car. (Can't they go out the front? More than one exit seems like something surveillance guys would plan for, but hey, what do I know? Apparently these are smart criminals and we have bumbling FBI guys.)

Back in the Restaurant of Dreams, Steve is sanding down a counter with Kamekona looking on when Danny brings in fabric swatches for the restaurant booths. He pretends, but doesn't really want Steve's opinion on what color fabric to use, because he's already ordered garnet. Not to be outdone, Kamekona offers up T-shirts he ordered that will bring people in. It has McDanno's Bar and Grill on it, with Danny and Steve in the Lady and the Tramp pose. Danny hates it (as would most people I would imagine, yikes!) Steve tries to be diplomatic and tell him it's going to be a different kind of establishment than the one he's used to running, but Kame has already ordered 400 of the shirts. (Maybe they can use them as rags?) Steve's phone rings, thankfully, and it's Harry! He wants to hang out with them.

The audience gets a nice shot of Harry coming out of the ocean in small swim trunks that Danny compares to Daisy Dukes. (Which was a bit strange, but okay.) Harry gives him a nice wet hug, using his shirt for a towel, but Steve gets a handshake. Apparently, Harry has retired at 45 and is traveling with world with his girlfriend Veronique who meets them as they walk down the beach. When Danny sees Veronique he comments that she's so pretty, but then adds, it's painful. (I'm not sure what that means. So pretty it hurts his head? Eyes? Heart?) Anyway, she invites them to lunch, but Steve gets called to the FBI's I-Can't-Get-Out-Of-My-Van crime scene.

The murder victim was Jimmy Okada, head of the Okada crime family and nine of his terribly inept bodyguards were killed as well. Lou starts to give the boys a recap when Tani comes in to finish it off, saying that after the shooters barricaded the feds in their own van, they came in the emergency exit, shot everyone, and left without being seen. Steve looks very concerned at this news because whoever did this, just started a war. Dun, dun, dun.

Back at the Show and Tell Talking Table, Tani is showing a deposition video of Okada giving one stiff line about how this is a waste of time and then we hear an even more stiff voice from the off-camera female attorney laying out his crimes. (I mean, I know lawyers have a reputation for having no feelings, but they don't talk like robots!) Jerry runs in breathless for the "tell" part of the show and tell, because he found out that the witnesses and staff are all accounted for except the waitress, Annie Hughes, who was last seen five minutes before the shooting. The team breaks without any high fives with Lou and Tani going to talk to Okada's son, Derek, (who isn't helpful, but definitely wants some revenge) while Danny and Steve go to see a CI. But of course they have to argue more about booth colors. (Steve wants black booths, Danny still wants red.) The scene is obviously filler, but then Harry shows up in the office elevator to save it! He wants to help them out on their case because retirement can be so tedious.

Steve and Harry talk about the booth colors. Harry votes for plain colors so they can liquidate it after the restaurant fails. (No one has been positive about a restaurant. Literally no one, so why are they still doing this?) They end up at Kamekona's for lunch (he's their CI) and to see if he knows who might want to take over Okada's turf and pull off a hit like that. (Honestly, how would Kamekona know? Hasn't he been out of the game forever?)  Kame gives them the name of a gunrunner, though, and they send Harry in to see the guy, since he knows all the "cops" on the island and the boys will run backup and listen in.

Harry is the ultimate professional, and gets hit on at the restaurant by a woman who is intent on taking something of Harry's if she can't have him herself, (in this case, she takes his drink) while he waits for GunRunnerLoto. Once the gunrunners finally arrive, Harry isn't intimidated at all by Loto and his crew. (I admit, I love listening to Harry's British accent). Loto asks him to get in the back of his van to do business (no, don't do it! Never get in a creeper van with graffiti all over it!) He does, though, and surprise! Once it's moving, a fight breaks out, which escalates to gunfire and the driver is shot. When the van stops, Steve and Danny hurry over, but Harry has things under control. (Of course!)

Danny can't get Loto to talk with his "good cop" persona, so Harry and Steve convince him. (Man, I would love to see those two work together on a regular basis.) They end up in a warehouse on Pier 17 and surprise a crew who bought a massive amount of guns from Loto. After a brief gunfight (where the bad guys once again are terrible shots), Steve pops a guy running away and they take him to the Blue Room of Doom. Victor, the BloodyGunRunnerGuy, admits they were trying to take over Okada's turf, but they didn't kill him. He knows someone at the FBI (bumblers AND with a mole? The poor FBI looks terrible in this ep) and they were waiting until the feds took down Okada before they made their move. But, Victor isn't the killer, and Lou confirms that since the guns from the warehouse and the Okada murder scene aren't a match.

But, good news! They actually found a gun match---with a gun that was reported stolen three days ago. Everyone is surprised the Okada murders (ten guys!) were done by a lone gunman, but Jerry shows them how it could have been done. (And the audience gets to see all the murders happen. Ew). Once the Jerry show is over, Harry meets Tani and is impressed with her shiny badge and wedge espadrilles meant to impress (but which aren't practical for her line of work. A lot of women on cop shows wear shoes that would never work. Why is that? Remember Castle? Some of Beckett's shoes/boots had four inch heels!) Anyway, Tani got a lead on the missing waitress, so the team breaks again and Steve and Danny go to talk to her, while Lou and Tani follow up on the guy who reported his gun stolen.

In the car Danny can't stop talking about how he wants to retire. Harry used to think the same thing, but he didn't realize he'd miss the buzz of the job. (So, let Danny retire, Harry become Steve's full-time partner, and they can go eat lunch at Danny's dream restaurant every day. Everyone wins!)

The boys get to the hotel and the waitress is dead on the floor, so that lead is gone. But, all is not lost! Tani and Grover are at the piano teacher's house and he's acting suspicious from the start. He doesn't know what was stolen besides the gun, says maybe a camera, when a large expensive camera is sitting on his coffee table. There's also an expensive tea set that didn't get stolen. (Plus, the guy's got shifty eyes.) When a cell phone rings on the coffee table, Lou goes ahead and answers it (which was weird), but it's Steve on the other end. PianoTeacher was the last phone number the waitress called before she died. Lou pulls a gun on him, just as a lot of men in dark cars and suits pull up. (Have you ever noticed that a lot of Crime Family Goons dress nice for work?) Tani takes the little piano student to safety in the bathtub and then joins the gunfight with Lou---after he tells her to make sure she kills who she shoots at. (Didn't he see her last week? She picked off a ton of people. Some of them from a moving car!) Oddly, they have piano music playing as they're killing people. (Like that makes it more classy? I'm not sure.) Oh, and Grover dares PianoTeacher to try to get away during the gunfight and he does! Never trust a shifty-eyed piano teacher.

Steve and Danny arrive on scene and Lou tells him that the guys Tani and Lou killed were identified as crew from the Okada family. Everyone is surprised PianoTeacher is behind it all, but then they find his secret room with all kinds of guns and weapons, books and DVDs on weapons, topped off with surveillance pics. Jerry figures out that Okada ran over the piano teacher's kid and killed him, so the Okada murder was a revenge play. (Well, for all the training he did, he sucked as a criminal by not having his stolen gun story straight. It totally gave him away!) Oh, and the waitress, Annie Hughes, was PianoTeacher's girlfriend.

Well, Derek Okada is mad that the piano teacher got away. (How did he figure out who killed his dad? We'll never know) and he orders his men to be on guard. After the piano teacher calls to tell him he's next, he wants to get his place locked down. Yeah, good plan. (PianoTeacher has definitely lost it. I mean, an hour ago he was teaching a little girl to play a piano piece!)

Next thing we know the piano teacher is killing everyone in his way as he works up to Derek Okada. He shoots all kinds of guards and even shoots someone through the eyehole in the door! (Ew). (It's pretty violent, especially when you consider all the murders at the opening of the show, the warehouse, the van, the murders at the piano teacher's house, and even the waitress.) When PianoTeacher finally makes it to Derek, he shoots him in the leg and shoulder, before he holds a gun to his head, Steve, Danny, and Harry come in quiet and tell him not to do it, but he wants Derek to pay. You see, Derek tried to buy the piano teacher's silence, and then his dad threatened to kill the rest of his family (Who? Did he have a wife or other kids? Because their lives are screwed now with their husband/dad being a serial murderer) if he went to the cops about Okada's role in his son's death. Harry says he's lost someone he loved very much and that this won't bring his son back or change anything. The piano teacher coldly shoots Okada anyway. (They even show the blood spatter on his face. Gross.)They take him into custody, but he doesn't look sorry.

Harry says he needs to make things up to Veronique since he told her he was only going out for sun cream. Danny and Steve offer to make them dinner, but can't get anything edible on the table, so Harry takes her to Kamekona's instead. Kame lectures the boys on customer satisfaction as they awkwardly watch Harry and Veronique eat. (Did they follow them there? It was so odd that they were just standing there drinking, watching Harry and his date.)

Anyway, the best part of the ep for me was definitely Harry's appearance. The rest? Yeah. A little much.

Did you watch? What did you think?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Writing Con Is Over--And I've Got Good News & Bad News

As you all know, I went to the InD'Scribe conference over the weekend. I had some wonderful experiences!

Brenda Novak was a keynote speaker and she had some really inspiring things to say about how powerful fairytales and dreams are because they tie to our hearts. But the one thing she said that really resonated with me as an author, was to write fearlessly and create something you love. I think that's every author's dream, really. And you wouldn't think that would be hard to do, but it is, so this was a nice reminder and call to action!

Here's me and Brenda doing a booksigning years ago. 

Here we are at the conference. A little bit of a difference for both of us! LOL

I also got to sit in on a workshop with Anne Perry. She talked a lot about what makes a good story and said, "You build up tension by making the hero unafraid when the reader knows how much danger there really is." I loved that!

The first night of the conference featured a costume ball and this lady made this authentic costume herself! Isn't it amazing? If there was a prize for best costume, she would have won hands down.

Here's me in my costume. I'm a medieval commoner, in case you can't tell. (Or at least that's what I'm saying I am, no matter what anyone else thinks! Haha)

The RONE awards were the last night of the conference and my novel, The Captain, was a finalist for Best Suspense/Thriller. I didn't win, but I was thrilled to be nominated, and so excited for my friends who did win in their category.

The conference did offer a nice dessert bar for the losers. Here's what I chose, and it was yummy!

I am really glad to be home. And my cat was happy to see me as well, as you can plainly see from this picture since she lifted her head in greeting before going back to sleep.

So, the good news is that the conference was fun, I met some wonderful people, (including an audiobook narrator that may want to audition for me in the future!), but the bad news is, I didn't win the RONE. Although, I was so motivated with what I learned at the conference, I dove right back into my stories and hope to have some great new release news, soon!

In the end, I just want to thank everyone who has supported me on this writing journey. I couldn't do any of this without my readers, friends, and family. You are amazing and very appreciated!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The RONE Awards---Cross Your Fingers For Me!

I'm in California at the InD'Scribe Conference and the RONE Awards are tomorrow night. If you recall, my novel, The Captain, is up for the RONE Award for Best Suspense. Woohoo! So, I need you to cross your fingers and toes for me!
I'll be sure to post tons of pictures when I get back. (Or you'll see them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram if you follow me there.)

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Movie Review for The Stray & A Freedom Factor Spotlight!

I was so excited to see that Mitch Davis who directed The Other Side of Heaven, a favorite movie of ours, had a new movie coming out called The Stray. We all sat down as a family to watch it.

It starts out with the Davis family in California and they're struggling. Dad is working 24/7 and their oldest son Christian is being bullied at school. Everyone is stressed and frazzled. Out of the blue, a stray dog appears to help Christian and his bullies and since Dad had suggested they get a dog and mom said they could only if God sent a stray, they decide to keep the one that was sent to them. They name him Pluto.  But things at home aren't really improving and when their two year old daughter goes missing when everyone is busy and not paying attention, the family makes some big changes. The question is, are the changes too late? Can they reconnect again, or will their chance for happiness be snatched away just when it's within their reach?

I thought this was an inspirational show about what's really important in a family and how much a dog can come to mean to their humans. There are some really touching moments and my six year old cried his eyes out at the end which made me misty-eyed! We were able to talk a lot about how much we love our pets and then we gave ours an extra love after seeing The Stray. This is a very sweet show that will pull on your heartstrings!

Get more information here

Here is the official trailer:

Here's the teaser:

The Stray tells the inspiring true story of a stray dog, "Pluto," who appears from out of nowhere just in time to save a family that is falling apart. Pluto is not only a guard dog--he's a guardian angel. Sometimes help comes in the most unlikely forms. Sometimes prayers are answered in the most unlike ways. Sometimes one dog can change everything.

The Freedom Factor

Have you heard of the Freedom Factor? Stan Ellsworth, best known for his work on American Ride, is helping to spread the message of better understanding the U.S. Constitution. As an inspired document, it is important to know what it protects and what its purpose is. Especially in an increasingly high tension political climate, every effort should be made to unite Americans on the three things the Constitution was designed to protect: peace, prosperity and freedom. The Freedom Factor is trying to give out 100 million pocket Constitutions to give everyone the chance to learn more. You can help!

You can find more information here

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book Review And A Giveaway!

I started reading Traci Hunter Abramson's Saint Squad series years ago and I'm always happy to see another book comes out that features them. It's nice to catch up on previous characters. Her new book, Safe House, has the Saint Squad in it, but several new characters as well from the guardians as their stories intertwine.

This one highlights Renee Niezen, a CIA operative who gets pulled into an investigation of who is killing off the guardians support people. She's an analyst, not a field agent, but can't resist her friend's Charlotte's pleas for help. Unfortunately, Kade, one of the last guardians around, has taken matters into his own hands and gone to the Saint Squad for help--in a very odd way. (If I were the Saint Squad, I don't know if I'd help him after their initial introduction!) But of course, they do. Anyone associated with the guardians is quickly finding themselves dead and it's a race against time to find out who is powerful enough to coordinate such a feat. Danger and mistrust is definitely the theme of the day.

Not surprisingly, the enemy always seems to be one step ahead of them and Renee quickly becomes a target from the moment she agrees to meet and help the guardians. Kade becomes obligated to protect her, another complication he is not happy about, but he quickly develops a grudging respect for Renee. But the closer they get to the truth, the easier it is to see that they could lose everything---including the feelings developing between them.

I really enjoyed the taut pacing of the story and the way the author draws the reader in. The plot is unique, but plausible, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep anyone up at night reading. There are a lot of characters and several points of view offered which can make it hard to keep everyone straight, but it also allows the reader to get into the head of all the main characters. This is a fast-paced, suspenseful read, and fans of Ms. Abramson's will enjoy spending time with the Saint Squad again.

Be sure to scroll all the way down and enter the giveaway!

You can download your Kindle copy here

Here's the back copy:

The guardians, the shadowy heroes of the top-secret program designed to protect members of the most elite government organizations, are being hunted down one by one. There is a single explanation: a traitor must be embedded somewhere in their midst. But if they themselves are the target, who will protect them?

CIA operative Renee Niezen has heard tales of the guardians, though she’s never really believed in their existence—until she is approached by Charlotte, an old friend who desperately needs her help to stop the systematic destruction of the guardian program. Renee accepts the plea for assistance, but not everyone is thrilled to have her on the team. Kade—one of the last guardians standing—is unimpressed with Renee’s qualifications and turns instead to the legendary Saint Squad for help. But when Renee is caught in the crosshairs, Kade must set aside his antagonism for the woman in order to protect her. Their grudging alliance soon develops into much more—but before the pair can examine their feelings, their investigation takes a dramatic twist. With lives on the line, Renee and Kade must use their spy training at every turn as they draw dangerously close to the shocking truth.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Hawaii Five-O Recap & Review: When The Team Gets A Dog

Well, our task force is growing.

We start out with a sweet dog going on a mission with his DEA agent handler. Unfortunately, the mission goes south, his handler is murdered and the dog is shot pursuing the killer. He gets a good bite in, though, but it's still pretty sad to see the bond between the dog and handler and then have the guy die.

Cut to Steve's house. (Is it me, or does it look smaller these days?) Steve is making coffee when he gets a visitor knocking on his door. Surprise! It's Chin's replacement! He doesn't say he's a poor man's Chin Ho Kelly, though, but instead says his name is Junior Reigns. (He literally looks like he's fifteen years old and has an adorable baby face.) Babyface says Steve's diving buddy Dave talked about Steve and his task force and Babyface wants to work there! Steve says no, so he walks away with sort of a sad smile.

Steve's phone is constantly ringing this ep and he gets a call and heads out. He ends up in the car with Danny discussing why Danny wants to ship Jersey water to Hawaii for the Italian restaurant. (It has minerals from old pipes that make it red and perfect for pizza-making. Ew.) Steve vetoes the idea because Danny didn't consider his feelings. Danny says Steve's a sensitive flower, but when Kono and Chin get brought up, Danny has a sad face and Steve points out that Danny is the sensitive flower now. (At least this was more of a discussion/argument instead of a one-sided whinefest, so that was good.)

They end up at the port where the DEA agent was killed. All the shooters got away (really? It looked like the DEA guy shot at least one, but maybe his drug smuggling buddies carried him away) two DEA agents were killed, and there's one service dog unaccounted for. (What? They can't find the dog? The place is crawling with HPD and DEA) Of course, Steve goes to look and immediately sees a blood trail and finds the wounded animal. Good thing HPD called him in! They might have never found that dog.

Duke and a head DEA guy, Agent Reed, (who looks like he should have retired about ten years ago. My grandpa looks younger than him!) update Steve and Danny on all the cocaine on the island recently and Agent Lazio's work trying to break open a smuggling ring. Lazio got the tip, and the team got ambushed. Steve tells AgentGrandpa he wants to talk to Lazio's CI. Meanwhile, Danny and Tani stay behind to check the containers at the port for drugs, but there's so many, it's going to take awhile. Steve asks Jerry to look for any repeat shipments that match up to the spike in drug activity that the island has seen every six weeks. Oh, and to check on Eddie the dog who is in surgery.

Eddie gets the bullet taken out while Jerry looks on. (Do they really have observation areas to watch surgeries from?) He leaves his name for the nurse to call when she knows something. While Jerry is at the vet, Steve and Grover are watching some kids on the soccer field with a cute soccer mom on the sidelines. Turns out the CI is the soccer mom. They sit her down and shes's overwhelmed. She got addicted to prescription meds and went to the street stuff. When she got popped the third time and was facing mandatory jailtime and losing her kids, Lazio stepped in and helped her get rehab and keep custody, so she became his informant. Her dealer, Manny, told her a shipment was about to come in. McGrover want to talk to Manny, and it turns out when he's not dealing drugs, he's a dishwasher! (Gotta keep an eye on those dishwashers.)

Grover recaps in the car what they know about the case so far until Danny calls and says they found a container with a cut lock and are checking it out. McGarrett tells him to log all the people coming in or out because if the drug haul is as big as they think it is, someone is coming back for it. Dun, dun, dun. (This, my friends, is called foreshadowing.)

McGrover make it to the restaurant where Manny works, but he didn't come into work today. The boss, Roger Niles, has his address in his office, though, and they walk back to get it, admiring the restaurant along the way. Grover tells Roger that Steve wants to open a restaurant and Roger tells him it's stressful, lots of risk, and his old partner died after eighteen months of it and he was only forty-two. Steve is forty-one. Uh oh. He does give Steve restaurant tip, though. The food is the loss leader. A wine list is the key to turning a healthy profit. Has Steve applied for a liquor license? From the look on Steve's face, it doesn't look like it. (Don't worry, the Restaurant of Dreams will have lots of Jersey water instead!)

McGrover head over to Manny's house and find him twitching on the floor, a needle in his arm. Steve starts CPR, but he gives up after a while and says Manny didn't make it. (Where's the ambulance? Sheesh. I never want to have an emergency in that part of town.) They both stare at Manny, noticing the needle was in left arm, but since his watch is on his right hand, he's probably left handed. Who shoots up with their non-dominant hand and doesn't have any tracks in his arms? He was set up. Poor DishwasherDrugDealerManny. Noelani comes along finally to confirm their theory. Manny had a massive heroin toxicity and a head wound and was definitely killed by someone else. They probably just missed his killer! Late to the party again.

Steve's phone saves the day again when Jerry calls with some good news and better news.  Eddie the dog is out of surgery and eating, so that's a good sign. Also, even better, some foreign blood out of Eddie's mouth (ew) matched a druggie named Jesse Burman. Jerry sends the picture to Danny and Tani says she saw that guy! (I'm sure she meant to say, she logged that guy in just like Steve said!) He left in a truck full of cargo not ten minutes ago. Uh oh. The team has been bamboozled! Those sneaky drug smugglers opened a random container to throw them off.

Tani and Danny race off and track Jessie and his truck. Unfortunately for Jessie and his crew, they are terrible shots and Tani pretty much picks them all off while hanging out of a swerving car. (I guess she wasn't just a pretty face in a bikini after all. She can take people out like nobody's business!) The truck goes off the road after the driver is killed, but a wounded Jessie flees on foot. Danny leads the chase into the woods, but when everyone goes their separate ways (now that song is in my head!) he doesn't see Jessie at all and instead hears four shots fired. Jessie is dead and guess who killed him? AgentGrandpa says he had to do it, Jessie was going to shoot him. (Hmmm... )

After all the shooting is over, they find a huge shipment of wine in the back of the truck, and guess what? Cocaine can be transported inside and then turned back into powder form. Danny takes out the bill of lading and it's a familiar name. Steve goes back to Roger's  restaurant, guns drawn. (That Roger, acting all nice before. That just goes to show that you should never trust a guy trying to sell you a $500 bottle of wine.) Well, now he's gone and taken all the stuff in his safe with him. (Oddly, Roger has a picture of a cow and a pig on his office wall, with different cuts of meat on it. I mean, I know he owns a restaurant, but his office was sort of nice. Too nice for a meat cut picture of bovines and swine, in my opinion.)

Time for high fives all around! With the amount of cocaine in the wine bottles, the task force has busted the biggest Hawaiian drug haul worth 24 million dollars. Tani is all yeah, but I wish we had the guy behind it all. (If wishes were dollars, my friend . . .) But, RestaurantRoger is nowhere to be found, and his wine shipments coincide with the spiked drug activity, so he's probably the guy Tani's looking for. Everyone at the Talking Table contemplates that for a moment until Grover has Steve come outside. Babyface is there washing Steve's truck. He feels bad for the guy and says that Babyface should meet him there at noon sharp the next day and to put his car washing stuff away. *coughsuckupcough*

Steve's phone rings again with another exciting lead on the case. (Seriously, without all his phone leads, this case would have gone nowhere.) Noelani did the fastest autopsy ever on Jessie the druggie and you'll never guess. He was executed by AgentGrandpa with a close range shot to the heart. Uh oh. Cue to a grisly scene of AgentGrandpa shooting more two more agents to get his hands on the impounded wine filled with cocaine. (Why is it always the ones who are close to retirement? I guess pensions must be worse than I thought.) (Also, why does he kill everyone else, but leave the soccer mom alive? Weird.) HPD is on top of it all though, and fairly quick-like find the empty van.

Steve's phone is on FIRE with leads and saves the day again when Jerry calls to say he found some undeveloped property of RestaurantRoger's and it's in a remote location. So, you know, they could be processing the wine for the cocaine there. Since it's such a large location (five city blocks) the team heads there with SWAT and HPD. Oh, and Eddie apparently came out of major surgery and the anesthesia wore off, so he could come along, too! Back in the field already. That's dedication. Before they go in, Steve gives everyone instructions for the search, then tell them to pat Eddie's head for luck. (It was a DEA thing.) Grover isn't too excited, since he's not a dog person, but he does it. Steve kisses Eddie and says go get them. Awww.

Eddie gets sent in with a camera on his back and his wound doesn't seem to hurt him at all or slow him down. The team follows and they find the drug operation. RestaurantRoger is there and AgentGrandpa! The team moves in and a gunfight ensues. The bad guys are generally terrible shots, but Eddie does end up saving Grover from a shooter he didn't see. AgentGrandpa runs from Eddie, wounded, but still trying to escape. When Eddie's done with him, he's taken out on a stretcher really bloody. (Double ew.) Grover is talking baby talk to Eddie, telling him he's a good doggie and he'll get a steak from Uncle Lou. Awww. He's not a dog person, but he's a "thisdog" person now.

At the pat on the back news conference Duke says that this was a sophisticated drug operation and were put out of business by brave law enforcement and Five-O, seizing millions of dollars in cocaine. (They don't mention that Head DEA AgentGrandpa was part of that operation, though.) And we cut to a sad scene of the flag being folded over Agent Lazio's coffin while Steve and Eddie look on. (Steve is wearing his blue shirt in that shot, though, probably to help us feel better. Thank you wardrobe people.)

Babyface comes into Five-O headquarters and is pretty impressed. Steve introduces him to Duke and says he needs to join the Academy to become a cop before he can join Five-O. Babyface isn't pleased and says he doesn't want to be a cop, he wants to work for Steve. No dice. Steve says he has to graduate from the academy and then they'll bring him on. Promise. (Maybe Babyface could do like Tani did and get kicked out of the Academy, and then they'll want him. Or maybe they want him to look like he shaves before they bring him on. Seriously, he looks so young!)

Danny is sitting on Steve's cupboards talking about Eddie and how Steve likes him since he's chopping free range chicken for him and putting it in favorite cereal bowl. Isn't Steve a cat guy? Yeah, cats are still a far superior animal, sophisticated and cunning, more agile, and self-sufficient, but Eddie has grown on him and he's a sweet dog. (Awww again.) But Steve called Danny over to tell him that Adam came to visit. Kono's case went federal and she's not coming back anytime soon so he's flying out to be with her. Sad faces. Things are changing. (But hey, they have SassyTani, Babyface, and Eddie now! Who needs Kono and Chin!) Steve calls the dog to dinner, but he's gone and they can't find him. Steve figures out where he is and heads to the cemetery where he's lying on Lazio's grave. (*sniffle* I'm not crying. You're crying!)

Eddie made it a sweet episode with tender and sensitive flower feelings. Did you watch? What did you think?